The Science Religion and Culture Program

The ideas behind BBQ+ started to form back in 2012 when Professor Ahmed Ragab, then the Richard T. Watson Assistant Professor of Science and Religion at Harvard Divinity School, founded the Science, Religion and Culture program (SRC). The program was created as a space where scholars could explore cultures of science, cultures of religion and their interactions. Over time, SRC started growing into one of the most active programs at Harvard Divinity School. It was recognized for its commitment to solidarity and generosity.

“Solidarity meant that we recognized our differences and the communities which we came from. It meant laying our weaknesses bare and relying on each other to grow stronger. Generosity meant not simply the readiness to give time and effort, but to give them with sincere investment in the work of others. Generosity meant that we understood the emotional and psychological toll that this work takes, and supported and stood with each other at and beyond this institution. At times, SRC lacked financial resources. But it had the time and effort of dedicated and talented people who were generous with their limited resources because they shared in the dream of creating an inclusive, affirming space within the walls of this university.”

Ahmed Ragab in “We’re taking our talents to the open air: a letter to the community”

BBQ Working Group

Five years later, Ahmed joined forces with Juanis Becerra and Eli Nelson, both graduate fellows at SRC, to establish SRC’s Black, Brown and Queer Working Group. Building on their intersecting identities, they designed the working group as a space where participants could collectively read, workshop, and learn from one another. During the working group sessions, participants explored the intersections of postcolonial theories, indigenous theories, critical race theories, and queer theories. In this way, BBQ working group captured SRC’s central commitment to issues of race, gender, sexuality, socio-economic class, and colonialism. BBQ working group became a key component of SRC. In fact, many of SRC’s subsequent initiatives and ideas emerged from the working group.

The Center for Black, Brown, and Queer Studies

In 2019, Ahmed, Juanis and Eli — now Assistant Professor at Williams College — joined Professor Myrna Perez Sheldon from Ohio University, Shireen Hamza, Kat Poje and Gili Vidan to incorporate the Center for Black, Brown and Queer Studies as an independent 501c3 nonprofit. Soon after, Xitlalli Alvarez and Chrystel Oloukoi joined the board of directors. Together, they sought to continue the intellectual mission created and developed at SRC’s BBQ working group. Their goal was to move past the limitations of university affiliations in order to reach a wider and more diverse group of educators, researchers, scholars and storytellers.

BBQ+ has since continued to pursue the mission of creating new, supportive and uplifting spaces for Black, Brown, Indigenous and Queer people. BBQ+ upholds and offers community to those studying the experiences of marginalized, colonized and decolonized people around the world.

See our Letter from the Director announcing the creation of BBQ+